This critical analysis of both the foundation and the organisation of the psychiatric institution, and of the way in which staff function and patients are treated, shows that unconscious mechanisms of the human psyche rule the institution in the same destructive manner as they do in the outside world. The institution is not a rational construction nor is it run by special driving forces, but rather is a place where the repetition of psychic tragedies and the drama of Eros and Thanatos prevail. Further, it functions as an overall mothering and securing structure where, when things go wrong, the fatherly repressive side takes the upper hand. And what of the rights of the patient? What kind of humanity drives the work within an institution? The author argues that the psychoanalyst plays a permanent subversive role within the institution, in order to make new effects possible, provided that the specific ethics of the psychoanalytic discourse are taken into account.
Trauma beyond the Biomedical Paradigm: Avenues for a Subject-oriented and Contextual Trauma Approach
This article provides a succinct overview of the structure and key findings of a psychoanalytically inspired theoretical doctoral thesis on psychological trauma. Starting from four core criticisms directed at the hegemonic, biomedical PTSD-model of trauma, the author makes use of the works of Jacques Lacan, Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek (amongst others) to develop a trauma framework that counters the current tendency to (1) conceptualise traumatic etiology in a mechanistic fashion, (2) to individualize, (3) decontextualize and (4) depoliticize trauma. One clear conclusion is that (the success of) the PTSD-model of trauma is dependent on an implicit yet well-defined ethical position, mirroring the prevailing ethical stance in the West – beyond any strictly scientific claims. The author argues that the pitfalls of this model can be avoided by acknowledging the dimension of the Real and incorporating the notion of the act in our understanding of trauma and its treatment.
Pasolini describes himself as a “scandal of self-contradiction” (Pasolini, 1957). He brings a subject who assumes the radical split that runs through the subjective field. With his poetry of permanent dissidence he taunts power in which desire and her laws are inscribed. By postponing the exemplary symbolic suicide his subject manages to avoid the deadlock of turning a blind eye and alienation in the symbolic other. Terence Stamp embodies this subject in Teorem in the role of mysterious guest. Pasolini’s theorem seems to be that, via regression to pre-genital forms of sexuality (a pre-symbolic state), one not only escapes to a mythic (poetic) reality, but also takes possession of a weapon one can use against the oppressor. Desire emerges in disturbances that shred the symbolic order and release the Real. Filmic truth is exposed as a core of pure nonsense and sexuality appears as the root of a perverted society.
In 2010 I was invited to take part in a cartel with Filip Geerardyn, Wim Matthys and Elisabeth Van Dam for a close reading of Lacan’s text “Kant with Sade”. In the aftermath of this I wrote this text, which is neither a record of the cartel, nor an attempt to interpret or to summarize Lacan’s text. It is the result of following the tracks that Lacan sets out, more a Deleuzian Rhizome than a logical or critical argument. Following these tracks leads to a dramatic discovery. Lacan’s act of writing is an invitation to work through some crucial questions on ethics (Kant and Freud) rather than to consume Sade’s literature or to consider the case of the French libertine.
During the 60s, at a time when many leading philosophers were showing an interest in Sade, the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan also wrote an essay on the literary works of the libertine aristocrat D.A.F. de Sade, often called “The Divine Marquis”. That essay, entitled “Kant avec Sade”, is regularly cited but rarely discussed in any depth by philosophers and psychoanalysts, partly as a result of Lacan’s baroque style of writing, his sloppy formulations, and his suggestive language. However, in spite of this, Lacan’s text is worthwhile reading. The central idea is that Sade’s oeuvre reveals the truth of Kant’s moral philosophy. In his article, the author shows that this remarkable thesis can be understood in at least two ways. Moreover, it is also argued that Lacan’s thesis can be read in a reverse direction, although Lacan himself never says that explicitly. It will be shown in the third section that according to Lacan, Kant is the truth of Sade.